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Dean Smith: 'We must have more cutting edge'

:Headline: Dean Smith: 'We must have more cutting edge':
Dean Smith's side take on in-form Manchester United on Thursday.

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith has challenged his players to make up for their missed opportunities as they head into the final five matches of the season.

Since the Premier League restarted Villa have taken just two points from five matches to leave them currently four points from safety.

Two of their three defeats have been by the odd goal and on Sunday they had more chances than champions Liverpool in the first 70 minutes at Anfield only to lose 2-0.

Smith knows that trend has to change, although next up are an in-form Manchester United side who have not lost a league match at Villa Park in almost 25 years.

"Our form in terms of performance levels has been much better since the restart," he said.

"We haven't got the points tally we feel we deserve and probably lack a bit in the final third.

"There's certainly points we have left out there and we should be in a much healthier position.

"The only way we can put that right is on the training ground and in the last five games."

Villa meet United at the worst possible time, with confidence high among Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who are enjoying a 16-match unbeaten run.

United are closing on on Champions League qualification, which seemed a distant dream when the two teams met at Old Trafford in December, the game ending in a 2-2 draw to leave United in ninth place.

However, Smith believes there are areas to exploit and was encouraged by the display against Liverpool.

"They are a very good team, they have improved. (Bruno) Fernandes is playing very well, they have pace and power up front," added Smith.

"But they have conceded a couple of goals against Bournemouth. You can see weaknesses in any team.

"We felt there were weaknesses to exploit against Liverpool. So that's our job as coaches to analyse weaknesses, try and exploit them and stifle their strengths as well.

"There is a lot of heart we can take from our performance against Liverpool. We will need that sort of performance again, but be better in the final third.

"We got a point at Old Trafford, took a lead thanks to a great goal from Jack (Grealish) and we more than matched them on the day.

"We have to do that again, they're in a better run of form now but there is a lot of desire within the team."

Defender Tyrone Mings and Grealish are fit to play having both struggled with calf issues at Anfield.

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CLiverpool38323385335299
2Manchester CityMan City392739106357184
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd381812866363066
4Chelsea392061369571266
5Leicester CityLeicester381881267412662
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves381514951401159
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd391512124239357
9Arsenal381414105648856
10Burnley38159144350-754
11Southampton38157165160-952
12Everton381310154456-1249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381111163858-2044
14Crystal Palace381110173150-1943
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914153954-1541
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham38109194962-1339
17Aston Villa3898214167-2635
RBournemouth3897224065-2534
RWatford39810213668-3234
RNorwich CityNorwich3856272675-4921
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CLiverpool38323385335299
2Manchester CityMan City392739106357184
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd381812866363066
4Chelsea392061369571266
5Leicester CityLeicester381881267412662
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves381514951401159
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd391512124239357
9Arsenal381414105648856
10Burnley38159144350-754
11Southampton38157165160-952
12Everton381310154456-1249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381111163858-2044
14Crystal Palace381110173150-1943
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton38914153954-1541
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham38109194962-1339
17Aston Villa3898214167-2635
RBournemouth3897224065-2534
RWatford39810213668-3234
RNorwich CityNorwich3856272675-4921
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